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Osborne, local quilting artisan, to be honored at Swappin Meetin

For Wanda Osborne, quilting has been a significant part of her life for most of her 59 years. She recalls with a chuckle how at age five she learned to sew on treadle machine and would often help her mother in the design and development of household projects.

She loved to work beside her mother and by the time Wanda had reached high school, she had become a talented seamstress earning spending money by doing sewing jobs for her teachers at Cumberland High School.

A native of Benham, she would graduate from Cumberland High in 1969, attend Southeast Kentucky Community amp; Technical College for two years before transferring to Eastern Kentucky University where she would receive a bachelors degree in education with a minor in art.

Over the years, she continued to sew and would evolve into one of the foremost quilters within the area. As a tribute to her proficiency and contribution to the craft, she will be honored as the Featured Quilter for the 46th Kingdom Come Swappin Meetin slated for October 1-2 and to be held on the Cumberland campus of Southeast Kentucky Community amp; Technical College.

I am flattered to have been chosen for the honor, she said. To be the featured quilter for the Swappin Meetin is a tremendous tribute I will forever cherish. I look forward to displaying my quilts.

Wanda Osborne 2010 Featured Quilt Artist

Wanda noted that she can usually produce five or six quilts each year and does so not for the money but rather, to give as gifts to family and friends. It gives me much pleasure to make a quilt for someone that is special in my life.

Those special folks are children, grand kids and friends. And, she says, her quilting creations are a mixture of appliqu, cross stitch, patchwork, hand quilting as well as machine quilting. I suppose I do a little bit of everything, she acknowledged.

Since most of her quilts crafted over the years have been given to others, she has had to borrow them for the upcoming Swappin Meetin exhibition that will be held in the gallery of the Edsel Godbey Appalachian Center. She will be showing various baby quilts made for her grandchildren Brooklyn and Joshua Maggard. Also, some of those to be displayed will be a cross stitch iris quilt, a maple leaf quilt, a nine patch quilt, a trip around the world creation, and a softball quilt in tribute to her daughter, Kimberly Maggard, in addition to a t-shirt quilt and a sun bonnet effort, among others.

She is a past winner of various quilting competitions held across the region, including the Swappin Meetin, the Redbud Festival at Barbourville and the Poke Sallett Festival in Harlan. She has also taken part in the Swappin Meetin quilting contest for the past decade. We are so blessed to have such an arts festival right here in our backyard, she said. The Kingdom Come Swappin Meetin pays tribute to our culture. It attracts so many folks. Its just a fantastic festival -- a great place to be on the first weekend of October.

Wanda, who is married to Gary Thomas Osborne and the mother of two, Christopher and Kimberly, is a retired teacher. She toiled for 28 years, first at the Harlan Vocational School and then at James A. Cawood High School teaching art.

After officially retiring, she returned to the school for three more years teaching home economics half a day. I loved teaching. I miss it, but I now have more time to sew and be more creative, she said.

She credits her teachers at Cumberland High School, who, four decades ago, ignited a spark and captivated her interest in becoming a master at her craft. She speaks glowingly of how Constance Ellison and Eunice Carruba inspired her to seize the day and to follow her dream of becoming a teacher.

By her having more time in retirement to be creative, to be able to fashion fascinating and intricately-designed quilts is certainly advantageous for all those who will drop by the Edsel Godbey Appalachian Center this weekend. I look forward to being there, to see old friends, to make new ones. I have been blessed; I hope folks will enjoy what they see.